ALS-diagnosed Maker uses 3D copy to emanate eye-tracking wheelchair

May 1, 2015 - als

Apr. 30, 2015 | By Simon

Although we’ve seen utterly a progression of several DIY projects that implement both 3D copy and microcontrollers to emanate a singular and customized hardware product design, really few of these projects have been finished by a infirm chairman in an bid to assistance make their – and others – lives easier in a box that their condition get worse.  However, this is accurately what a goal of UK-based builder Patrick Joyce has been for a past few years.

Joyce, who has degenerative condition engine neuron illness (also famous as MND or ALS), was strike with his initial suspicion in 2013 to emanate an eye-tracking wheelchair controller that allows a user who has mislaid all engine functions solely for eye transformation to be means to control their wheelchair and an onboard computer.  He was desirous in partial by his crony and plan partner Steve Evans, who also suffers from MND and is usually means to use his eyes to promulgate and control objects around eye gazing.  Together, Joyce and Evans were assimilated by associate Maker David Hopkinson who helped with some some-more concerned earthy tasks for a project.

To start with, Joyce wanted to implement a existent hardware that a UK supervision provides for those with MND: a motorized wheelchair and an eye gawk computer.  In sequence to emanate a judgment that would work, he would have to emanate a 3D printed ‘Electronic Hand’ section that would cover and control a chair’s joystick.  This would be operated by a singular module from an Arduino house that is tranquil by existent eye-tracking software.         

Because he would be regulating government-issued hardware (the motorized circle chair and eye gawk computer) for those who expected weren’t “Maker Geeks”, Joyce had to emanate an open source resolution that was as minimally-invasive as probable and could be practiced to fit a accumulation of needs; there are over 5,000 in a UK alone who humour from MND.  

“I envisioned carrying dual tools – an Electronic Hand unit, and a Brain Box to control it,” says Joyce in a blog post.  

“Making a Electronic Hand should be sincerely easy regulating servo motors, though we was stranded on what a Brainn Box would indeed be . . . until we detected Arduino!”

Using an Arduino microcontroller as a substructure for a project, Joyce began to build out his resolution – however, he was met by some setbacks on realizing that many of a components would need to be combined regulating a 3D printer; something he didn’t have during a time.   

However, interjection to a energy of amicable media, Joyce was means to get his initial tools printed by “the ludicrously well-named” Tim Helps, who himself had entrance to a 3D printer.   

Using a 3D printed tools supposing easily by Helps, Joyce was means to continue building his initial prototype.  While a antecedent – named MK1 – worked and valid a concept, it was difficult to build a indispensable specialized tools and training in sequence to scrupulously assemble.  

Upon a attainment of his 3D printer in Oct of 2014, Joyce began work on his second antecedent – a MK2 – along with a assistance and knowledge of Evans.   

“Initially we suspicion we’d interface a mechanism with a Brain Box around infrared, as many wheelchair mounted computers have infrared environmental control,” adds Joyce.

“But after consulting Steve we forsaken this in foster of a approach tie around USB and got bustling essay program for it in Processing.”

To exam a platform, Joyce and Evans conducted a typing speed exam over Skype; while Joyce used a normal keyboard and his hands, Evans used a eye tracking software.  According to Joyce, “his eyes indeed managed to kick my hand. Just.”

While a plan is still ongoing and now underneath development, Joyce is anticipating to have a final pattern delivered in Nov of 2015.  By then, he’s anticipating to have built a tiny prolongation run of finished units to be given to MND sufferers along with a extensive set of open source building instructions and ultimately, skeleton to put a made product into placement for giving to MND sufferers around a world.   

If Joyce doesn’t enthuse a inner-Maker within you, we don’t know what does!  You stay updated on a plan by streamer over to Joyce’s plan page on Hackaday.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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